To the Men and Women Fighting Boko Haram:
Hello. My name is Annalee, and though we do not know each other, I felt it was important to write this letter to you right now. Continue reading
To the Men and Women Fighting Boko Haram:
Hello. My name is Annalee, and though we do not know each other, I felt it was important to write this letter to you right now. Continue reading
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
(John 10:10-15, NIV)
Do you understand how Loved you are by God? How invested He is in you? How into you He is?
As a single lady, these word from Tom Ewing about John 10 hit my heart, hard. God has thoughts about us… and they are thoughts full of a future and a hope for us, from the One who gladly laid down His life for us. The God of this Universe THINKS ABOUT US AND FEELS FOR US!
Perhaps you have needed to hear this too. You may feel unloved, unworthy of Love, unnoticed. Know this: YOU ARE NOTICED! Jesus is into you, invested in you as His Creation! Just as He saw that the biblical Leah was unloved and honored her (Genesis 29), He sees you exactly as you are, exactly how you feel. Allow Him to show you that you can trust Him!
You are Loved by Jesus. His Love can be trusted. May you rest in the arms of your Savior today… because His Love will not let you go. ❤
Love, Your Sister in Christ,
Do you know Jesus?
Jesus Loves you so much that He gave His life for you. Learn more about this amazing God, and His Love, here.
Please pray for…
Thank you for your prayers!!!
Have you ever felt exhausted over something? Felt like nothing was ever going to change? The sadness and initial anger, once fiery hot, has become hopelessness, resentment, unbelief, and apathy. Continue reading
After watching this video about those attending the University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID), my heart swelled with pride for those who are going to school despite (and almost in defiance of) Boko Haram’s threats.
I am also very proud of President Buhari’s promises to stop violence from herdsmen and bandits. There is a lot that needs to change in Nigeria, as seen by Falz’ brilliant video, “This Is Nigeria” (a cover of “This is America” by Childish Gambino). But I am glad to see that progress is being made, despite kick-back from those who want to stop Nigeria’s progression toward true freedom and healing as a nation. I was so happy to hear of this progress that I wanted to write this letter to those fighting opposition, especially to the students of the University of Maiduguri, to encourage them to continue doing what they’re doing—and to point them to Jesus Christ.
To the Students of The University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID):
Although I do not know you—and probably never will—I just wanted to say that I am proud of you.
You may not see why. Going to your university may seem to have nothing special about it, just as I go to my university. For many of you, it is a simple, normal, day-to-day thing.
But you also see and understand that, for you to go to your university, there is a much higher risk of attack from Boko Haram— a type of violence that I do not have to deal with on a daily basis.
Each day, you chose to go to a place where there is some risk of you being hurt. While some would say that this is unwise, I point to the extensive amount of security that UNIMAID has implemented to make you attending school something that is not stupid.
Yet, though there is implemented security, there is always risk. I commend you for each step you take toward that school, knowing that there are many people who absolutely oppose you getting the education that you are getting, and making the progress that you are making.
You coming to UNIMAID every day is akin to looking Boko Haram in the eye and saying, “You do not scare me. I will not let you control and ruin my life.”
And that takes major, major courage, my friends.
But sometimes bad things happen. We lose courage. Sometimes we are afraid, and we are not the people, gallantly opposing evil, that we should be.
This is reality—true, hard fact. My friends, if you find yourself in this place—of being faithless and afraid—I encourage you to do one thing, cliché as it sounds:
Look toward Jesus.
The Author and Finisher of our Faith.
Our Savior, the One who makes us right with Himself.
The One who died on a cross to pay for our many lapses of faith, our disobedience, our transgressions. It is His perfection that God sees when He looks at those who place their trust in Jesus Christ.
And it is His faithfulness that will get us through the darkest nights of our lives, when it feels as though the enemy lurks in the shadows.
We fail, but Jesus does not. Let’s rejoice and rest in that.
He, and He alone, is worthy of our highest praise.
As you continue in life, my prayer for you is that Jesus would be your Lord, your Savior—and that He would make you brave, as you face opposition toward progress and healing in any form.
May your courage and worth be found in Him!
Your Fellow Human Being,
Annalee Hoover, ISAIAH 62 PRAYER MINISTRY
Do you know Jesus?
Jesus obeyed perfectly, so that we wouldn’t have to.
Learn more about Jesus, what He did, and how it changes everything forever, here.
Please pray for (you can find the prayer sheet for this blog, here)…
Thank you for your prayers and support!!!
When I started this blog, over 3 years ago, I never would have imagined the journey Jesus would take me on.
I also wouldn’t have imagined the beautiful people I have met along the way. You all know who you are. 🙂
I just wanted to say a quick, but honest “Thank You,” and I wanted to sit and really thank Jesus for each and every person He has blessed me with– including the 276 Chibok girls who were, and still are, the reason for this blog in the first place.
3 years ago, Jesus simply led me to all of this, through a community of women praying for each other (you can read more about that story, here). Jesus opened my eyes to a group of women in Northern Nigeria who were in the spotlight at that time, known as “the Chibok girls.” Though I have never met these young women, they have become an amazing part of my life; Jesus has given me a Love for them that I could not have ever gained on my own.
And you. Through your constant support, comments, and prayers, mountains have moved. Chains have been broken. Eyes and hearts have been opened, including mine. And I can honestly say that I am BEYOND blessed to know each and every one of the people who read this blog, and who pray for everything spoken of, as much as one can.
So, Jesus, Thank You.
And Friends, Thank you!
Let’s storm the heavens to see what Jesus wants to do next in freeing, healing, and restoring these young women, their families, and other victims back to life through a relationship with Himself!
Here’s to all Jesus is going to do– and has already done. ❤
Thank you, friends, for your continued support and prayer!!! It is moving mountains, and bringing me wonderful encouragement, joy, and comfort.
I love you all!
“The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.”
(Psalm 126:3, NIV)
With Love, in Christ,
ISAIAH 62 PRAYER MINISTRY
Do you know Jesus?
Let’s thank Jesus, most of all, for us even being able to actually know Him.
If you do not currently know Jesus personally, as Your Lord and Savior, I invite you to learn more about, and meet Him, here.
This past Saturday, amazing people– people who served in unthinkable wars, and survived some of the world’s most brutal trauma– were celebrated, during Veteran’s Day.
But, honestly and sadly, as much as I hate to admit it, Veteran’s Day was not a holiday that I held in the forefront of my mind– at all. Reading BeautyBeyondBone’s post on how this holiday was basically ignored, I felt both convicted for not truly observing this holiday, and inspired to, once again, write on warfare in honor of Veteran’s Day, all at once.
But what was I to write?
After prayer and the Holy Spirit showing a couple of things to me, I believe I am led to write a short post of appreciation for all of my fellow Americans in the military, while also praying for their safety according to Psalm 91. Here it is.
Dear Fellow Americans in the Military– and those who are now out of it as Veterans,
From the deepest part of my heart, thank you. Thank you for mustering up the courage, bravery, and seflessness to do such a thing as put your lives out on the line for our freedom: freedom to speak our opinions, freedom to pursue the lifestyles and careers we want, and most importantly, the freedom to worship.
We all know that in other places in the world, Christians are not allowed to even openly believe in Jesus and His Work on the cross, much less meet together to celebrate, worship, and learn from Him through the Word being taught by pastors and teachers. It amazes me that Christ would plant me in America, born in the west, so that I might know Him from an early age, and grow in my relationship and walk with Him with little to no persecution. He could have planted me, planted us, in so many other places, all around the world, but He didn’t.
In Revelation 19, Jesus is called “Faithful and True,” the One who will rain down divine judgment and war (Revelation 19:11). This Mighty Warrior, Jesus, once called an ordinary man– one just like you and me– to fight for the liberation of Israel. His name was Gideon.
Gideon was scared at the thought of fighting against those who were oppressing Israel, the Midianites. But, in the midst of this man’s doubts, fears, and weaknesses, God said this.
“The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”
(Judges 6:12, NIV)
Whether you believe in Jesus or not, dear friend, I pray you would understand that Jesus is not a religion. He is a person; a person who deeply Loves and Cares about you. Every anxiety, every fiery trial full of gun fights, and every moment of PTSD-like memories you have, Jesus is right there, waiting for you to call on Him as Lord and Savior, for help. Please do not refuse His Help. For, with Him alone as your Lord and Savior, you have the ultimate victory.
I pray that this has blessed, and encouraged you. I wanted to bless you, by praying Psalm 91 over you.
Dear Lord Jesus,
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
Please bring these men and women to come to know You, so that they might rest in Your Shadow, and call you their Refuge and Fortress.
Please help them to trust in You when they are afraid (Psalm 56:3).
3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
Please save them from falling into temptation, and the traps of their physical and spiritual enemies.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
Jesus, please cover these active men and women with Your Feathers.
When all of the fighting and memories get to be too much, please be their refuge.
Please show Your Faithfulness to them– for it is great, Father God.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
As they are in the middle of the worst of the worst, Lord Jesus, I pray that You would protect and safeguard each man and woman who is fighting. I pray for amazing miracles, Jesus, to happen on the battlefield– miracles that will speak even to their enemies of who You are, so that all might come to know You!
9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
Please give these men and women the faith to call upon You as their Refuge, dear Jesus.
Remove the lies and fears that their own minds and their enemies give them; make them strong and bold in You.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
Do amazing things before the eyes of these men, women, and the people they are fighting to protect. Do supernatural, awe-inspiring things in their midst, so that they will know that You are LORD alone.
14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
Please bring back these men and women safely! Over EVERYTHING, dear Jesus, may they know You alone as their Lord and Savior!
I pray that they would have a humongous testimony of Your Faithfulness and Help in their lives, Jesus. May they call upon You, and always rely upon Your Love for them and Your blood– nothing else.
Please help those who are struggling with what has happened to them– who feel it is impossible to reconcile the fact that You are a Good, Loving God, with the things they have seen. In their doubt and anger, may You show Yourself to be real to them, despite their questions.
Thank You, Lord Jesus.
In Jesus’ Name I pray,
You are all very Loved by Jesus, and by those who are calling upon Christ for you.
Thank you, again, for your service.
With Love, in Christ,
Do you know Jesus?
This same God– this “Mighty Warrior,” called the “Lion of Judah” (Revelation 5:5) — is also called “The Lamb that was slain, for the sins of the world” (John 1:29; Revelation 13:8). But why did Jesus have to die? Why did He willingly become a man, to be sacrificed for your sin and mine? Read more about Jesus– and why He did what He did– here.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
(John 15:13, NIV)
Thank a Veteran or member of your military for their service, today. Thank you for your love and prayers!!!
I read in this report that 86% of displaced peoples in Northern Nigeria, approximately 1.2 million people, are currently afraid of going back to their home towns and villages in Northeast Nigeria. This letter was written to these people, in response.
To the People in Northeast Nigeria, Beloved by Christ:
Hello. You may never know me; and I may never know you. Living halfway across the world from you, I have not experienced your culture, and I do not truly know the world you live in.
I will not pretend that I understand the pain you have experienced; I cannot.
I look at pictures of your children, and I cry at their gaunt, fragile bodies.
I hear about the land you once inhabited, your homestead, where you once grew your wheat, making a living. I have heard that those people, those locusts with human flesh on, stole it, stole it all, after stealing the lives of your loved ones– those who tried to escape.
I hear about these things. But how could I ever know them? It seems trite, even insulting, to write such a letter to you.
So much, so many has been stolen from you. Your fathers. Your mothers. Your children. Your lovers. Your husbands, your wives. Your innocence. Your homes and villages, wrecked by these locusts with human skin on.
And the miles you walked, ran, and hid to get away. As scorching as the heat that once made Hagar cry out in the desert, you walked your weary bodies across the highest of temperatures to get away from those locusts– those men who rob, and kill, and destroy.
You may have almost died… maybe some of those closest to you did die. I could never be able to understand this feeling: the horror you experienced as they slipped away.
All I can do is cry, when I think about it. Cry for you, cry for them. Cry for the pain that now keeps you awake at night.
By now, millions of people, in the same predicament as you, have found some sort of shelter. An internally displaced people’s camp, a friend’s house. Maybe even an old school building, one similar to the one your children learned in, before it was all taken away.
Maybe you have been there for one week. Maybe it’s been six months; maybe it’s been whole years, since you once saw your homeland. And they want you to go back.
The government, who, for many of you, did nothing to protect you, and nothing to disarm your enemies– they now say it is okay to go home.
I cannot imagine how you feel; I know that probably everybody feels something different. But according to this report, it says that most of you are afraid. Afraid of the known; afraid of the unknown. Afraid of the past; afraid of the present. Afraid of the future.
Friend, if this is where you are, I want to encourage you.
I know that I could never fathom the many atrocities you have been forced to experience.
But there was a time in my life, where much of what I held dear was stolen, too.
Food did not enter my mouth. My “homeland” of friends had to be left. For a time, I felt I had lost my own family.
The details of this story are for another day. I went through the most painful, heartbreaking time of my life, and let me tell you: I was a desert. I was dry bones. At times, I literally lacked even water; my own hands would not give it.
Fear enclosed me on all sides. I was afraid of the past happening again, and was afraid of what my future would hold. Friend, I was terrified.
But this is the Truth: even when I did not, could not see Him, Jesus Christ– the Lord of Heaven and Earth– was working for my good. Even when I felt, even when I was, alone, He was there, with me, in the darkness, chaos, and confusion.
When I was thirsting, spiritually and physically, Jesus quenched my thirst with His Promise: “I will never, never fail you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5, NIV).
Friend, His Presence, according to Hebrews 13:5-6, makes Him your Helper. The Hand you hold during this trial, this storm. And when you are on the other side of this?
I pray that you will be saying, “Because He is near me, I will not fear.”
Jesus is Your Helper. Sounds trite, doesn’t it?
Especially coming from the mouth of a person who doesn’t know the first thing about your tragedy.
But I do know about mine.
It’s been three years later, and I can promise you this: If you place your trust in Jesus Christ, none of this will be wasted.
And He, being Your Good Shepherd, will give you life. Life, abundantly.
He will restore back all of what those locusts stole. He will restore you.
So, don’t be afraid. Be wise. Be cautious. But, with Christ on your side,
Don’t be afraid.
We are praying for you. You matter; You are Loved.
I want to bless you, by praying for you, here.
“Dear Jesus, Thank You for each and every one of these people. Thank You for keeping them alive.
Please let them hear, today, of Your Unfailing Love.
Please help them to dream again. Help them to flourish, and restore ALL that these locusts stole from them.
In Jesus’ Name we pray,
Again, we love you.
Yours in Prayer to Christ,
Annalee (of ISAIAH 62 PRAYER MINISTRY)
“So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, The crawling locust, The consuming locust, And the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, And praise the name of the Lord your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; And My people shall never be put to shame.”
(Joel 2:25-26, NKJV)
Jesus came, that we might have Life, and have it abundantly.
In fact, He paid the ultimate price for us to have eternal life.
Learn more about this God, who lost everything, that we might gain everything in Him, here.
Thank you for all of your prayers and support!
Sa’a, a twenty year old girl from Chibok, Nigeria, was around 18 years old when she was just one of the 276 young women Boko Haram kidnapped on April 14th, 2014. Jumping from the bed of one of Boko Haram’s trucks as it sped away into the night, Sa’a barely escaped with her friend.
Now free, Sa’a (a name used to protect her real identity) is studying in the US, along with the very same friend who escaped alongside her. Interviewed by NPR, Sa’a also wrote a statement, and was brought before a congressional panel on Africa and human rights, represented by chairman Chris Smith.
Although she is physically free from the clutches of Boko Haram, she remembers her classmates, and all those displaced, back in Nigeria, and has brought great glory to Christ, in all her recounting of her horrible ordeal.
Jesus Christ has used this beautiful young woman, and her story, to greatly encourage me in Him. I pray that, if given the opportunity, she would be encouraged in Him through this letter, as well.
Hello! My name is Annalee, and I am from the western United States. I received the honor of learning about your personal story, concerning Boko Haram, both through your interview on NPR, and through a news article posted on a press-release distributor. As I read, and heard, your story, Jesus Christ stirred in me and led me to create this letter to you.
Sa’a, as I read your story, I was filled with both pain, for you and those in Northern Nigeria, as well as encouragement. I wanted to encourage you; but I don’t want to write you merely fluffy words. I wanted to encourage you in Christ, and by His Word. I pray I am able to do so, here.
Sa’a, I praise Jesus, that by Him, you are very brave. Christ has gotten you through so much, and, as a poet named John Newton, once said in the song “Amazing Grace,”
“Tis Grace has brought us safe thus far,
and Grace will lead us home.“
While your current circumstances still may hurt, I want to encourage you with this verse, found in Romans 8. “But in all these things we are completely victorious through God who showed his love for us” (Romans 8:37, NCV).
Sa’a, as you look to the future, I know that you probably also look toward the past, at times. You must think about the classmates you love that have not escaped, yet; and the millions of people who have been displaced, harmed, and even killed by Boko Haram. Sa’a, I am so sorry for this. Please, my dear friend, know that “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18, NIV). It is during the most heartbreaking times that Jesus is working, moving, and opening His arms wide to you, for Comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3). I pray you would receive that Comfort.
Finally, Sa’a, I wanted to encourage you with this. What your classmates have gone through, and still are going through, is unthinkable.
The injustice is outrageous. So many feel, and think, that no one hears them. Their hearts are sometimes lonely. Hopeless. Sad.
But, even in this state, we have this sure Hope: we know that Jesus Christ rose from the grave, and He is coming back, again (Hebrews 6).
On that cross, the power of sin– and the power of death, that seems so overwhelming– was conquered. “For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:56-57, NLT).
It is Christ’s Victory that makes us spiritually free and alive, as Christ says.
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?'”
(John 11:25-26, NIV)
And, that is the complete Truth– no matter where we find ourselves. In Christ, we have the Victory. In that, I pray you would find true Hope, Rest, and Comfort.
Do you know Jesus?
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried,that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.”
(1 Corinthians 15:3-5, NIV)
Think about it. Your rabbi, your friend, and your leader, Jesus Christ, warns you that He will die soon. That you all will scatter. That He will rise again (Matthew 16:21). How would you feel? What would you say?
There is no doubt that sorrow, panic, and a deep disturbance would fill your heart. There is no doubt that the disciples of Christ were confused, angry, frustrated, and, most of all, filled with grief.
As they saw Christ crucified in agonizing fashion, the One they loved looked defeated. Struck by men, this man who claimed He was God died (John 10:30), and His followers did not understand (John 12:16). Although He foretold His resurrection, Jesus Christ’s death seemed to be the Ultimate Defeat to those closest to Him.
But, Jesus Christ could not be defeated. On the third day, He rose again. Learn more about– and meet– the One who was victorious, here!
Dear Father God,
Father God, I praise You, and I thank You, for all You have done, all You are doing, and all You will do. You are unstoppable, Father God; Your resurrection proves it!
I thank You, Father God, for every person You have created; You have declared Your Glory to all people, Father. Father God, I just praise You for Sa’a, and for her being just one of the countless people You have shown Yourself to. You are Holy, Father God… and You have given everything, to free Sa’a, and to show her You are near. You are amazing, Father God!
I pray right now, in Jesus’ Name, Father God, that dear Sa’a would be comforted by Your Holy Spirit during this horrible time. Please give Sa’a Yourself as her Strength, and draw her close to You. Dear Father God, please delight her as she seeks You, more and more, and show her Your face through all of the grief and darkness.
Father God, I praise You and I thank You for Sa’a’s unnamed friend. Dear Father, I pray that this young woman would know You as her Lord and Savior, if she doesn’t already. Father, You are “a very present help in times of trouble” (Psalm 46:1); I pray that You would show this to Sa’a’s friend. Please strengthen her, Father God, and restore/give to this young woman everything the enemy has tried to rob her of, and destroy.
Father God, I praise You for all people who have been touched, hurt, and otherwise affected by the Boko Haram insurgency. Please bring them to know You, and show them the Justice, Peace, and physical Salvation that they need, Father God.
Father God, please protect those men, and women, who are taking a stand against Boko Haram, and are giving their lives to defeat Boko Haram. Please show them that You are the One and Only God, Father God, Lord Jesus; protect them from their spiritual enemy, Lord Jesus. Comfort them with the fact that You win.
Father God, I pray over the 219 young girls who are still missing, and the thousands more who were not apart of the Chibok Schoolgirls kidnapping. Please strengthen them, Father God; give them great Courage and Peace, and keep their eyes on You (Psalm 31:24; Isaiah 26:3). Please move, in and through these camps, to bring all men— even Boko Haram members– to You.
In all, Father God, please reassure Your People that You are ruling and reigning over their every experience. Thank You for dying the death we deserved, that we might know You, and have Victory in You. Praise You, Father God! I thank You for ALL of this. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.”
Please continue to pray for Sa’a, her friend, and all those who have been deeply affected by Boko Haram– free, and captive. Thank you!
In 2014, the town of Malari, Nigeria was attacked by the terrorist group Boko Haram. In what was a heartbreaking experience for everyone involved, Boko Haram, while “cutting and shooting everyone, mostly boys” , “slashed the limbs” of a young boy named Joe Shagari. Amidst this traumatic event, even more heartbreak was being had as women like Indo Ansabe, 35, were kidnapped and raped, forced to leave their beautiful children behind (source). Leaving Joe, his sister, Jumai, and others, like Indo Ansabe’s children, without parents, Boko Haram has left these slowly-healing human beings with scars that are more than skin deep.
With this heartbreak in mind, these children must be brought to the feet of Jesus: where they can experience the Salvation, Love, comfort, and healing that can only be found in His arms, or as Jesus puts it in Luke 13:34, “under His wings.” It is my hope that, by the Power of the Holy Spirit, and through prayer, this letter– written for these children– will do just that.
“People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.'”
(Mark 10:13-15, NIV)
To children like you, Jumai Ganbo and Joe Shagari:
Hello. My name is Annalee, and I am a “young adult” who lives in the United States. Though we may be very different in age, and though we live in different places, we have more in common than you think.
I heard that you like to play before school. I did too, when I was your age! (Honestly, if I ever got the chance, I still would. :)) I loved to make-believe, and made some of my best friends while playing. When I was your age, there was nothing I loved more than to run around with my friends, shouting and laughing with joy (I heard you like to do the same thing, though it is a bit different in your culture– ululation, isn’t it? It sure sounds like fun!).
But I also know there once was a time when these sounds weren’t heard at all. When the bad men in Boko Haram came to your village, there was no more playing; you were very scared as these men rode into your community. They left with your loved ones, and created injuries on your hearts, souls, and bodies that did not heal quickly.
Maybe you still have those injuries. My dear friend, please know that I am very sorry for what Boko Haram has done to you. I cannot imagine what you have gone through, but I can think of someone who can. His name is Jesus. Have you heard of him?
Jesus was a man who lived a very long time ago (over 2,000 years ago, to be exact!). He lived in a place called Israel, and was Jewish (meaning that his ancestors, or family, traced back to being born an Israelite). You can also be a Jew if you believe in Judaism, a religion that believes in the Jewish God.
Jesus was a Jew, but He was more than a believer in God: He is God! (John 10:30-33). He was called “Immanuel,” or “God with Us” (Matthew 1:23). Though He was only on the earth until He was 33 years old, the bible says Jesus is God Himself, and existed before the world began (John 1:1-3, 14a, ERV). “All of God lives in Christ fully”– and He came to the Earth He created to die for the bad things we’ve done (Colossians 2:9; John 1:29). He became the ultimate sacrifice, so that we could come close to Him again (Hebrews 2:13; 1 John 2:2; 2 Corinthians 5:20).
Do you know what Jesus, when He looked out on the people in Jerusalem, said? He said, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You kill the prophets. You stone to death the people God has sent to you. How many times I wanted to help your people. I wanted to gather them together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. But you did not let me” (Luke 13:34, ERV).
“Why would Jesus say that?” you might ask. For centuries, “prophets”– or the people Jesus chose to speak through before coming to earth– had told the people of Israel what Jesus was saying. In the bible, the prophets of the Old Testament told the Israelites to stop worshiping fake gods, and to come back to believing in Him. But many Israelites did not like what the prophets were saying, and did not believe them, so they killed them. Because Israel’s people did not believe Jesus’ Words, they didn’t believe Jesus. This is very sad! He wanted to protect them, like a mother bird protects their babies, but they did not come to Him.
This can happen a lot to us. God, Jesus, wants to know and be close to us, but we won’t let Him for some reason. Sometimes, we are mad at Him for something we believe He did to us. Sometimes, we are afraid of Him, and we don’t believe He loves us. Sometimes, we just don’t believe in Him at all. Whatever our reason, we believe we can live life fine without Jesus– and we push Him away. But although this seems to be true, it is a lie! When we reject Jesus and what He did for us, we reject the only way to a close relationship to God, and all of the blessings He wants to give us in Jesus’ Name, including living with Him in heaven! (John 14:6; John 10:16; Ephesians 1:3).
To give us all these things, though, Jesus had to give everything He had. He had to leave His perfect home in heaven with God the Father, and had to enter this sad world to do what God the Father wanted Him to do (John 6:38). While on this earth, Jesus had nowhere to belong. “Jesus said to him, ‘The foxes have holes to live in. The birds have nests. But the Son of Man [Jesus] has no place to rest’” (Matthew 8:20). Not only did Jesus have no home. The bible tells us that Jesus “was a man who suffered a lot of pain and sickness. We treated him like someone of no importance, like someone people will not even look at but turn away from in disgust” (Isaiah 53:3). People liked Jesus at first, as they watched Him do many miracles; but not long after, all the people were shouting “crucify Him!” (Luke 23:21). All Jesus’ friends abandoned Him, and the people killed Jesus in the worst way possible: by nailing Him to a cross (Philippians 2:8). My dear friends, Jesus knows all of your pain; not only does He know your pain, He has been through it Himself.
But because of His pain, death, and coming back to life, you can be close to Him! Friends, I can’t imagine what you have been through. But Jesus can, and He wants to protect, comfort, and heal you! Jesus loves you VERY much, and wants to be your best friend. This means that He wants you to come to Him with all of your hurt, your pain, your good days, and your bad days! Most importantly, He wants to save you from living apart from Him, forever. Just like Jerusalem, Jesus wants you to believe in Him– and run to Him, to be Saved and to rest. Will you?
The bible says that everyone who accepts that Jesus is their Lord and Savior will go to be with Him forever in heaven, where “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, sadness, crying, or pain. All the old ways are gone” (Revelation 21:4). He promises to be your Comforter now, and to remove all this pain in heaven. Dear friends, I pray you would run towards Him, now– ululating all the way.
With Much Love,
Do you know Jesus?
As said above, Jesus Christ lived a life of complete self-sacrifice. The humility of Jesus is beautifully expressed in Philippians 2:6-11:
He was like God in every way,
but he did not think that his being equal with God was something to use for his own benefit.
Instead, he gave up everything, even his place with God.
He accepted the role of a servant, appearing in human form.
During his life as a man,
he humbled himself by being fully obedient to God,
even when that caused his death—death on a cross.
So God raised him up to the most important place
and gave him the name that is greater than any other name.
God did this so that every person will bow down to honor the name of Jesus.
Everyone in heaven, on earth, and under the earth will bow.
They will all confess, “Jesus Christ is Lord,”
and this will bring glory to God the Father.
Jesus paid the full price of mankind’s sin. When He did, “…the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom” (Matthew 27:51a), so that mankind, as they accept Him as Lord and Savior, can enter in behind the veil: can be Saved from their sin, to be with Him, close to Him, forever.
Do you desire this intimacy with God? He desires it with you, too. Meet Christ– God the Son– who is the way to the Father, here.
“Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.’”
Please pray for…
– The children who have been involved in this insurgency.
– The parents, family members, and loved ones who are grieving the loss of their children, whether out of being separated in life, or by death.
– That those separated from their loved ones would be reunited soon; that the Nigerian government, and President Buhari especially, would work to make this a reality.
– The 219 young women still missing from Chibok, Nigeria.
– That their loved ones would not lose hope, either; that President Buhari would work to make this a reality, as well. Sign this petition, asking Him to, if you feel led.
-That children involved in this horrific insurgency would find Jesus, and His Joy, amidst the pain. A movement called Reload Love is aiming to do just this. Click here to learn more.
As always, I praise Jesus and thank Him for you, and your prayers. Keep praying! “May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done” (Ruth 2:12).
In April of 2014, 276 girls ages 16-18 were stolen from their boarding school in Chibok, Nigeria.
Although the majority of the young women remain missing, 57 managed to escape. Three of them, along with one girl who fortunately, was not kidnapped, but saw the kidnapping and school fire’s aftermath, spoke with Abigail Pesta of Cosmopolitan Magazine concerning their stories. All four of these girls are Christian; and, although their experiences concerning Boko Haram and the Chibok Girls kidnapping are traumatic (to say the least), one of them, Mercy, has chosen to forgive their members, saying, “I pray to God to forgive them and cure their hearts… I do not want revenge.” By Jesus’ grace, these four brave young women are now studying at a Christian boarding school in Canyonville, Oregon.
When praying about this blog post’s topic, Jesus led me to write a letter of encouragement to my fellow sisters. Using God’s Word to exhort these brave young women, I pray it would encourage them to “keep their minds stayed” on Jesus. “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (Isaiah 26:3, NLT). I pray that it would keep all of our minds on Christ, and that it would bring close all those who are far away from Him.